Crisis opportunity to change the world: Sarkozy
DOHA, Nov 29: French President Nicolas Sarkozy says the global economic crisis is an opportunity to ``change the world'' and raise developing nations out of poverty.
Sarkozy was speaking at a United Nations development conference in Qatar featuring the 20 nations with the largest economies Saturday.
The gathering intends to gain commitments from rich nations to pump billions of dollars into developing countries.
Sarkozy said the world cannot continue with ``business as usual'' and cautioned the rich against ``sacrificing'' the poor while looking for solutions to an ``unprecedented financial crisis.''
European leaders meet on financial meltdown
PARIS, Oct 12: European leaders met in Paris on Sunday for a summit designed to hammer out a coordinated bank rescue package before the resumption of trading in panic-stricken stock markets.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the current head of the European Union, said he hoped to persuade his counterparts "to speak with once voice" in a bid to contain the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
After talks with Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown -- who has already part-nationalised some of his country's major banks -- Sarkozy was to meet with the 14 colleagues from the single-currency euro bloc in the Elysee Palace.
As he greeted European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, who is also joining the talks, Sarkozy said he expected a "coordinated, ambitious" plan to contain the financial crisis to emerge from their discussions.
"We're going to receive the British prime minister to explain to him what we are going to propose to the euro-group," Sarkozy told reporters.
"On Wednesday we're going to try to get all of Europe facing in the same coordinated and ambitious direction," he said, referring to this week's Brussels summit of all 27 European Union members. "That's what I expect: Europe speaking with one voice," he added.
Barroso told reporters that the financial measures on the table for the euro-zone 15 would "go beyond what was agreed at the G7", referring to a meeting Friday in Washington of the world's major industrialised powers.
The leaders of France and Germany on Saturday rejected the notion of creating a common financial rescue fund for Europe, but insisted that a coordinated response will emerge after a weekend summit.
"The crisis demands extremely rapid responses" and a "European fund would pose gigantic problems" in decision-making among so many nations, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said. "There is no question of a European fund," said German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The two spoke at a news conference ahead of a Paris summit on Sunday bringing together the 15 leaders of the countries using the euro currency.
Neither leader would provide details on exactly what might emerge from tomorrow's summit. Merkel spoke of creating a "common tool box", but said that "each country could use these tools to respond to (its) particular situation".
"We need a common approach in Europe, but we must be able to adapt to each national situation in a flexible way," she said. She said that for Germany she does not exclude support for banks seeking it, but added that conditions would be attached.
"One cannot talk of nationalisation," she said.
The French and German leaders met in this village east of Paris, the home and burial site of former French President Charles de Gaulle, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a meeting between de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer to seal reconciliation in the wake of World War II.
The meeting follows a weekend gathering in Washington of finance ministers from the so-called Group of Seven: Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and the United States.
'Nomadic' French writer Le Clezio wins Nobel prize
GENEVA/ PARIS, Oct 9: French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, a globetrotting novelist hailed as a child of all continents, won the Nobel prize for literature on Thursday.
The Swedish Academy, which decides the winner of the coveted 10 mn Swedish crown ($1.4 mn) prize, praised the 68-year-old's adventurous novels, essays and children's books.
"His works have a cosmopolitan character. Frenchman, yes, but more so a traveller, a citizen of the world, a nomad," Horace Engdahl, permanent Secretary of the Academy, told a news conference to announce the laureate.
Underlining his international credentials, Le Clezio, who describes himself as French and Mauritian, answered questions in English, French and Spanish at a Paris press conference.
"Some kind of incredulity, some kind of awe, then some kind of enjoyment and mirth," he said, describing how he felt when he heard the news. Questioned about what he would do with the prize money, he added: "I have debts. I'm going to pay them."
Engdahl stirred up resentment among some U.S. authors and critics in the run-up to this year's announcement by saying American writers were too insular and did not participate in the "big dialogue" of literature. The last American to win the literature Nobel was novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.
When asked about the issue, Le Clezio replied: "I don't think you can say American literature is any one thing, because it takes many forms."
He added that Philip Roth, a perennial favourite among bookmakers to scoop the Nobel, would be a worthy winner.
"He will certainly win this prize, and even if he doesn't he will remain a very great writer."
Nice-born Le Clezio moved to Nigeria with his family at the age of eight. He wrote his first works -- "Un Long Voyage" and "Oradi Noir" -- during the month-long journey.
According to the Academy's Web site, he studied English at a British university and taught at institutions in Bangkok, Mexico City, Boston, Austin and Albuquerque, among others.
Le Clezio also spent long periods in Mexico and Central America and married a Moroccan woman in 1975. Since the 1990s he and his wife have shared their time between Albuquerque in New Mexico, the island of Mauritius and Nice, the Academy added.
The author said he believed French culture was a melting pot of influences. "The French language is a result of a mix of cultures. It has received contributions from every corner of the world. That is what is wonderful about French culture. It is a place of encounters."
Le Clezio's first novel was "Le proces-verbal" (The Interrogation), written when he was 23. It went on to win the Renaudot prize in France.
Seen as an experimental writer in the 1960s, Le Clezio was preoccupied by themes including the environment and childhood.
His big breakthrough came in 1980 with "Desert", which the Academy said "contains magnificent images of a lost culture in the North African desert, contrasted with a depiction of Europe seen through the eyes of unwanted immigrants."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the award.
"A child of Mauritius and Nigeria, a teenager in Nice, a nomad of the American and African deserts, Jean-Marie Le Clezio is a citizen of the world, a child of all continents and of all cultures," Sarkozy said in a statement.
"A great traveller, he embodies the global reach of France's culture and values in a globalised world."
All but one of the prizes were established in the will of 19th century dynamite tycoon Alfred Nobel and have been handed out since 1901. The economics award was established by Sweden's central bank in 1968. French economy enters recession
PARIS, Oct 3: France has entered a recession, with negative growth expected in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, the country's national statistics agency said on Friday.
The Insee statistics agency said it expects the economy to shrink by 0.1 percent in both the third and fourth quarters. Following on a 0.3 percent fall in the second quarter, that would bring growth down to 0.9 percent for 2008.
The agency said it expects unemployment to rise to 7.4 percent by the end of the year. In the third semester of 2007, France's jobless rate stood at 7.2 percent.
Insee's projections have sparked a debate over the definition of recession, which economists generally define as two consecutive quarters of falling gross domestic product.
Government officials have been quick to insist France is experiencing very slow growth and is not in a true recession because growth for the year is still expected to be positive and is close to the government's projection of 1.0 percent growth for the year.
Insee said its projections are based on the premise that the current global financial crisis does not worsen and that credit markets do not tighten. France will launch nuke cooperation with India: Sarkozy
NEW DELHI, Sept 28: French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday made clear his country's intention to forge ahead with the civil nuclear cooperation with India which will be sealed in an agreement he is signing with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Paris on Tuesday.
France, the world's leading country in nuclear power which produces 80 per cent of electricity from atomic energy, is ready to offer its latest EPR technology to India under the agreement.
Sarkozy said the prospects of cooperation between France and India in the civil nuclear field are "very promising" considering his country's expertise, long tradition of cooperation with New Delhi and an atmosphere of trust.
"This visit holds a special meaning for me... We will launch our civil nuclear cooperation which will become a cornerstone of our partnership," the French President said while talking about the agenda of his bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister in Paris on Tuesday.
India and France initialed the Framework Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation in January but could not sign it pending a waiver from the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. With the NSG giving its nod, the two leaders will sign the agreement during Singh's visit to Paris.
Prior to their bilateral talks, the two leaders will meet in Marseille on Monday for India-EU Summit as France is the current chair of the 27-nation European body.
Mahindra & Mahindra ED gets top French honour
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Sept 16: The French Government has conferred its highest civilian award Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur on Mahindra and Mahindra Executive Director Arun Nanda for his company's contribution to strengthening India's business and cultural ties with France.
The award the Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honour was presented to Mr Nanda by visiting French Minister of State for Foreign Trade Anne-Marie Idrac at the French Embassy in New Delhi on Tuesday evening.
''The two countries, with common democratic values, have common role to play, be the question of nuclear energy or food security,'' Ms Idrac said.
She said a lot was expected from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to France later this month.
The two countries are expected to sign a civil nuclear cooperation agreement during the Prime Minister's visit to France on September 29 and 30 when he will attend the India-EU Summit and the bilateral India-France Summit.
Mr Nanda recalled his long association with France and thanked the French Government for bestowing the honour on him.
French Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont said the award was in recognition of Mr Nanda's remarkable career in the business community in Mumbai and of the part he took in the establishment of partnership between Mahindra and Renault (a French company).
But above all, it was his performance as President of the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry that the award was given to him, Ambassador Bonnafont said.
The “Légion d’Honneur” (Legion of Honour) is the highest distinction that can be conferred by the French Republic on a French citizen as well as on a foreigner. The Order of the Legion of Honour was instituted in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte.
Ustad Kamal Sabri performs at the French Embassy
NEW DELHI, Sept 22: Sarangi Maestro Kamal Sabri performed at the French embassy here at a special evening hosted by the French Ambassador, Mr Jérôme Bonnafont.
Ustad Kamal Sabri enthralled the audience on the occasion of the meeting of French cultural network in India.
Ustad Kamal Sabri, son of the Sarangi legend Ustad Sabri Khan, has widely participated in several national prestigious festivals like the Tansen Samaroh in Gwalior, World Peace Concert in Delhi and international music concerts such as the Saint Denis Festival in Paris and the BBC Millenium Concert in UK amongst several others.
A regular performer on All India Radio and Indian National Television, he was the youngest Indian musician to participate in ‘les 24 heures du Raga’ (the 24 hours Millenium concert) in Paris, France. The multifaceted musician is also a composer and the strains of his Sarangi are associated with several documentary films, theatre and dance.
French Minister prepares ground for PM's visit
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Sept 17: The French Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Mrs Anne-Marie Idrac's two day visit has helped further cement ties between India and France.
Her visit was in the perspective of the forthcoming European Union-India and the France-India summits to be held on 29th and 30th September, as well as in a follow-up of the State Visit to India made by the President of the French Republic in January 2008.
During this visit, it was agreed with the Indian Prime Minister that high-level exchanges between our two countries would be intensified.
During her two days stay in the Capital, Mrs. Idrac held several high level meetings covering a wide range of areas with Mr. Kamal Nath, Minister of Commerce and Industry. The issues discussed were bilateral trade, development of investments and exchange of people (forthcoming opening of the Consulates General of Bangalore and Calcutta) and with regard to multilateral issues, Indian perspectives in the Doha negotiations (WTO) and the progress expected from the EU-India and France-India summits by the Indian authorities.
During her meeting with the Agriculture Minister, Mr Sharad Pawar, the two sides discussed intensification of French cooperation for developing agricultural productivity and ensuring Indian agro-food security.
She discussed presentation of innovative French companies from the renewable energy sector during her meeting with Mr. Vilas Muttemwar, Hon’ble Minister of State for New and Renewable Energy.
On September 16, the Minister launched the Dior and Louis Vuitton boutiques, which are among the jewels of French-style fashion and luxury, at the Emporio mall in Vasant Kunj.
Later, during a special function at the French Embassy, she bestowed the prestigious French Government honour, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur on Mr Arun Nanda, Executive Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
On September 17, she visited the Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon, where her speech focussed on the competitiveness of European markets and their development prospects during France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union.
She also launched a day long Career Opportunities Fair where top French companies such as Thales, Renault, Air Liquide etc. were present.
India, France to ink social security agreement
NEW DELHI, Aug 26: More than 65,000 Indian professionals working in France should feel a lot secure over their future as the two countries are all set to enter into a social security agreement.
As part of the bilateral social security co-operation pact, France is going to be the latest signatory to the agreement with India after Belgium.
Delegates from France and India will ink the agreement during a three-day meeting beginning on August 27 here.
"A French delegation is set to arrive here on August 27 for a three-day negotiation round, following which the social security agreement will be finalised," said an official here.
The delegation will engage in talks with the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs officials, including Secretary K Mohandas, who will work out the details of the agreement.
Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vyalar Ravi will sign the deal on behalf of the Indian government.
The agreement will provide for bi-lateral social security arrangement where by an Indian professional can avail benefits of his social security, pension and other benefits even after leaving France.
This will also ensure that the signatory countries make deductions from an Indian employee in France accordingly and that he is redeemed of the benefits either in France or India.
Once finalised the deal will ensure that old-age and survivors pension for employed and self-employed Indians in France, invalidity insurance and permanent disability pensions for sailors and social security for all employees will be redeemable even in India in both Indian and French currencies.
It will also entitle Indian employees to be treated as equals by the French government and French employers as per an Equality of Treatment clause in the agreement. A large number of Indian IT and medical professionals in France will benefit from the agreement.
EU assures India full solidarity in fighting terrorism
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, July 29: The European Union has assured its full solidarity in fighting terrorism alongside India and termed the recent blasts in Bangalore and Ahmedabad as "cowardly and inhuman" attacks.
"I learnt with deep grief the dastardly attacks which struck India, in Bangalore and Ahmedabad, on July 25 and 26. I would like to extend my deepest condolences and sympathy to you, as well as to the Indian people and particularly the families of the victims," French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who holds the Presidency of the European Union, said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Sarkozy said, "as the holder of the Presidency of the European Union, I considered it important for Europe to condemn firmly these blind, cowardly and inhuman attacks.
"On this occasion, I wish to assure you of the full solidarity of the 27 Member-States of the EU and their determination to fight alongside the Indian government to eradicate the scourge of terrorism," he said.
Sarkozy said France and India will have the opportunity to examine soon the reinforcement of our cooperation in this area during strategic dialogue scheduled on August 11 in Paris.
"Should you so desire, we could raise the substance of this issue together during the upcoming EU-India Summit and the Indo-French Summit which we will hold in Marseilles and then in Paris, in September," he added.
Syria, Israel leaders mark Bastille Day in France
PARIS, July 14: The leaders of Syria and Israel, countries with a bitter enmity, as well as the Palestinian and Lebanese presidents together marked France's Bastille Day on Monday in a diplomatic coup for French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Other leaders from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also attended the traditional Bastille Day parade, where troops in their finery marched down the tree-lined Champs-Elysees, and jets trailing smoke of red, white and blue roared overhead.
Syrian President Bashar Assad, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and more than two dozen other leaders stood on the official grandstand, looking up the Champs-Elysees toward the Arch of Triumph. The leaders had stayed over following a summit Sunday that launched an unprecedented Union for the Mediterranean, a brainchild of Sarkozy's aimed at securing peace across the restive region.
In launching the Mediterranean union, 43 nations, including Israel and Arab states, agreed to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction
Deep divisions still slice through the region and its population of 800 million people, and surfaced during Sunday's summit, highlighting how hard it will be to parlay the meeting's good will and words into real progress.
Assad refused to shake Olmert's hand, and Morocco's king snubbed the meeting attended by the president of rival Algeria. It was also unclear how the countries would enforce their pledge to "pursue a mutually and effectively verifiable Middle East Zone free of weapons of mass destruction."
Still, Sarkozy reveled at having brought so many leaders to the same table for the first time. His office brushed off critics' complaints that Assad should not have been allowed to stay for Monday's ceremonies because of Syrian human rights failings and suspicions that Syria was implicated in a 1983 bombing in Lebanon that killed 58 French soldiers.
Campaign group Reporters Without Borders called Assad an "enemy of press freedom" whose government is guilty of "ruthless censorship."
Assad, in dark glasses, showed no emotion as French actor Kad Merad read aloud an extract from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in front of the grandstand where the leaders stood.
G8 must include India, China: Sarkozy
PARIS, July 5: Thousands rallied in northern Japan calling for the G8 rich industrialised nations to be disbanded on Saturday while in Paris, member France called for the group to grow to include major emerging states such as China and India.
In Sapporo, several thousand people protested against the annual Group of Eight summit due to take place at a luxury hotel 70 km away.
The 90-minute march by Japanese and foreign activists took place under heavy security ahead of the July 7-9 meeting at the hot spring and lake resort of Toyako.
The protesters banged drums and carried colourful banners proclaiming “Shut Down the G8” and yelled: “We are against a summit of rich nations”.
Four Japanese men were arrested for violating the public safety ordinances or interfering with police activities.
In Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for the meeting to include China and India as well as representatives from Latin America, Africa and West Asia, saying the world today was “multipolar”.
“I think it is not reasonable to continue to meet as eight to solve the big questions of the world, forgetting China — 1 billion, 300 million people — and not inviting India — 1 billion people,” he told a conference of the ruling UMP party.
The G8 includes the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia.
“The truth is that if we want peace and world development, everybody needs to be invited,” Sarkozy said.
“I do not accept that a continent of 1 billion people like Africa does not have a country to represent it at the table of world leaders.”
Sarkozy has said more than once that he thinks the group should be expanded. He did not detail on Saturday how the structure should be changed, however.
This year’s G8 host, Japan, argues that the current size works well, with other countries brought into the group for discussions on specific issues. In all, 22 leaders are attending next week’s meetings in Hokkaido.
“We cherish this format for G8”, a senior Japanese government official told reporters this week, adding that the G8 countries “share common values”.
The G8 nations will meet eight other countries, including China, India and Brazil, in an expanded Major Economies Meeting (MEM) on July 9 to look at long-term targets for climate change.
Environmentalists are urging the G8 to set bold targets for cutting C02 emissions by 2050 and interim goals for how to get there in order to boost momentum for UN-led talks on a new framework for after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. Those talks are set to end in Copenhagen next year.
Cop kills self before Carla, Sarkozy
BEN-GURION AIRPORT/ISRAEL, June 24: An Israeli police officer fatally shot himself in the head on Tuesday at an airport departure ceremony for French President Nicolas Sarkozy, authorities said, sparking fear of an assassination attempt and prompting bodyguards to whisk Sarkozy and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert away from the scene.
The shooting occurred while a military band was playing, and the leaders apparently didn't hear anything. Dark-suited men then quickly ushered Sarkozy and his wife up the stairs of their plane. In a panic, Sarkozy's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, rushed up the stairs ahead of her husband.
At the same time, security guards, with their guns drawn, rushed Olmert and Israeli President Shimon Peres toward their cars. The incident was over within minutes, and Olmert returned and boarded the plane to inform Sarkozy what had transpired, witnesses said.
Police spokesman Shlomi Sagi confirmed that a policeman guarding the airport committed suicide just as Sarkozy was about to board his plane as a band was playing.
Another police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, denied reports that there had been an assassination attempt on the French leader.
The incident marred Sarkozy's three-day trip to Israel, a visit meant to improve relations between the two countries.
French presidential spokesman Franck Louvrier could not be reached for comment on his mobile phone. Another presidential spokesman who was on another scheduled flight out of Tel Aviv said he knew nothing about the incident.
Sarkozy heaps praise on Brown for ratifying treaty
PARIS, June 19: President Sarkozy today praised Gordon's Brown's "political courage" in pushing through ratification of the Lisbon Treaty despite the Irish 'No' vote, as he prepared for talks to salvage the agreement.
Speaking after a meeting with Mr Brown, at which the two leaders agreed to work together to avoid a crisis over the treaty, President Sarkozy said: "I want to say how pleased I am and thank him for demonstrating political courage by leading the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. He did this with much commitment and much strength."
While the Prime Minister has denied that he plans to "bully" the Irish into voting again on the treaty, President Sarkozy goes into tonight's summit determined to save the reform plan during a dynamic French EU presidency to prove to the European people that the Union is their friend.
The Irish "No" last week put a damper on Mr Sarkozy's ambition to leave his mark on the Union with a flamboyant presidency that will be symbolised by the illumination of the Eiffel tower in European blue and gold from July 1.
The festivities, including "Europe balls" across France on Bastille day, will roll on during France's six month turn in the EU chair. Spending 190 million Euros, Paris aims to dazzle with stylish ceremonies and the classiest souvenirs ever given away at EU summits, designed by Philippe Starck.
Beyond the style, the "Sarko show" is to pursue initiatives on immigration, climate change, defence and energy. The first spectacular will be a Paris summit on July 13 for about 50 leaders from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to launch Mr Sarkozy's pet project for a "Mediterranean Union".
But the French president will be deprived this year of his role as king-maker for the new posts of semi-permanent EU President and Foreign Minister. Rather than raising the curtain on this post-Lisbon era, Mr Sarkozy has now given himself a new mission: winning back favour for the Union.
Initially, Mr Sarkozy was furious with the Irish. "They are bloody fools," he told aides, according to le Canard Enchaîné weekly. "They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s..t."
He then ordered his government to play down the 'no', proceed with their plans and find ways to save the treaty. "We have to manage the Irish 'no' with calm, with sang-froid and neither dramatise nor minimise it," he last weekend.
The French "hyper-president" is determined to make the Irish vote a second time on the treaty, if possible even before European Parliament elections next June.
Mr Sarkozy, who was one of the brokers of the "mini-treaty" last June, has ruled out any rewriting of the text, which he hopes will be ratified by all 26 other states. He is asking Brian Cowen, the Prime Minister, to outline the guarantees Ireland would need to approve the treaty.
France opens doors to Indian engineering students
NEW DELHI, April 28: France has opened the doors to its technology for Indian engineers - for the first time selecting 16 young engineering students to study in various universities across France on scholarships sponsored by Alten, a leading French engineering group.
The programme is in association with the 'n+1', a network of 74 French engineering colleges, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The students short-listed for the two-year masters' programme took part in a pre-departure orientation programme at the French Embassy recently.
The students were selected from among 100 from Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai based on their merit and adaptability skill. They will complete their masters degree, accompanied by internship programmes with the Alten Group. The 'n+I' network comprises some of the best engineering colleges in France.
'It is a new initiative. The French government is allowing Indian engineers to study in the country for the first time. The agreement was signed between Valerie Pecresse, minister of higher education and research in France, and several Indian universities in January when President Nicolas Sarkozy visited India,' said Philippe Carette, chief executive officer of the Alten Group.
Carette said Alten was increasing its business significantly in India and wanted a global workforce, which could adapt to both French and Indian culture. The students will have to study and answer their papers in French. The streams include automotive, aerospace, cad-cam, design, innovation and telecommunication, in which the country has technological edge.
Alten comprises 11,000 engineers, who provide integrated technical solutions to big industry names in automation, aerospace, electronics and energy engineering across the world. It is one of the biggest technical consultants in Europe.
'President Sarkozy wants to internationalise our country as an education stop. He is keen that the number of Indian students in France goes up and vice-versa. India is a big market for us and we have to localise our products to tap its potential. At the same time, we have to be cost effective, service oriented and quality conscious.
'We need local engineers for the purpose who can understand the language - both French and Indian. The curriculum of the engineering students has been roughly tailored to suit our needs,' Alten's offshore business director, Munich-based Indrajit Sen, told IANS. The company is also ready to support the students for their doctoral programmes if they prove themselves.
Ten out of the 16 students short-listed for the Master of Science (MS) programme were present at the orientation.
The French government has increased the number of scholarships for Indian students. Next year, as many as 300 students will get an opportunity to study in France. The French government has also enacted a new legislation that will allow Indian students to work for a couple of years in the country after completing their master's degrees.
French President Sarkozy marries Bruni
PARIS, Feb 2: French President Nicolas Sarkozy married supermodel-turned-singer Carla Bruni at the Elysee Palace on Saturday, French radio reported quoting several witnesses.
Two radio stations said the pair tied the knot at a low-key ceremony conducted by the mayor of the Paris district that houses the grandiose Elysee estate.
"The bride was wearing white and was ravishing," mayor Francois Lebel told Europe 1 radio. "The bridegroom wasn't bad either," he added, without naming the couple.
The Italian news agency ANSA quoted Bruni's mother, Marisa Borini, as confirming the wedding had taken place.
A spokesman for Sarkozy declined to comment on the reports.
Sarkozy and Bruni indicated last month that they planned to marry and made it clear that any wedding would be a private affair, far from the eyes of the media.
A French newspaper report on January 14 that they had married proved unfounded. RTL radio on Saturday gave a much more detailed report, naming the couple's witnesses.
The radio station also quoted Bernadette Chirac, wife of previous French President Jacques Chirac, as saying getting married at the Elysee, the president's official residence, was "a wonderful thing".
"I want to express all my best wishes to this new household. She is very, very beautiful," she added. It was not immediately clear if she was present.
Sarkozy, 53, separated from his second wife Cecilia last October after 11 years of marriage and was clearly deeply upset by the split, just five months after he took power.
It was the first time in modern French history that a serving president had separated from his wife, but within two months Sarkozy was photographed in public at Paris Disneyland with Bruni, and the French media reported they were a couple.
The two went on holiday together over the Christmas period in Egypt and Jordan and photographs of them walking arm-in-arm made the front cover of almost every news magazine in France.
The media frenzy has dealt a blow to Sarkozy's popularity ratings, with French voters complaining that he was concentrating too much on his personal life and not enough on the affairs of state.
Bruni, 40, has previously been linked with rock stars Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, as well as US businessman Donald Trump and French former Socialist Prime Minister Laurent Fabius.
She has a son from a previous relationship, while Sarkozy has two grown-up sons from his first marriage, and a third son from his marriage to Cecilia.
Bruni threw a surprise birthday party for Sarkozy last week at her plush Paris home and friends say the pair are extremely happy together.
RTL radio said Sarkozy's witness at the wedding was Nicolas Bazire, a senior figure in the LVMH luxury goods group, while Bruni's witness was Mathilde Agostinelli, head of communications at Prada France.
India, France to bolster defence ties
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Jan 25: French President Nicolas Sarkozy has reiterated Paris’ support for India's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and New Delhi's civil nuclear deal with the United States.
Sarkozy, who arrived here on a two-day visit, said "France will be an advocate for India over access to civilian nuclear (technology)."
A joint statement between the two governments said that "France and India have finalized negotiation in regard to reaching a bilateral agreement for civil nuclear cooperation."
"We will pass the operational phase as soon as India concludes an accord with the IAEA and that the international rules of the suppliers' group are changed," said the visiting French President.
Sarkozy, accompanied by a business delegation, met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday. On Saturday, he will be the guest of honour at India's Republic Day celebrations.
Besides international and regional situation, the two leaders also discussed the strong defence ties between the two countries. France in recent years has signed deals for Mirage jets and Scorpene submarines to modernise India’s military.
The revival of the Eurocopter deal for 197 military helicopters -- which was dumped by India last month – is also said to have figured during the talks.
France's Dassault Rafale will also compete for a deal to provide India with the world's biggest fighter jet contract in years, expected to top $10.2 billion for 126 fighters.
Dr Singh said the two countries have agreed to strengthen military cooperation and move beyond a "buyer-seller relationship."
Addressing a joint press conference with Nocolas Sarkozy, Dr Singh said "I think it is very important that India and France should cooperate, share information and intelligence gathering for defence of the values which are dear to both our countries."
"We have agreed to go beyond a buyer-seller relationship. We will increasingly focus on joint research and development projects, transfer of technology and greater military exchanges," he added.
The two sides had earlier signed an agreement on protecting classified defence information.
The two countries also decided to strengthen their cooperation in counter-terrorism areas.
Sarkozy said that the “rise of Islamic terrorism” is expressed the “same way here and in France”. He said “we face the same enemies.”
He pointed out that France has been interested in India's neighbourhood, having a substantial troop presence in Afghanistan.
'We all know what is going on there,' he added, referring to India's neighbour Pakistan, which is beset with political instability and extremism.
'I need not spell out why we are strengthening cooperation between our intelligence agencies,' said the French President.
Dr Manmohan Singh also stressed that it was “very important for India and France to cooperate” and share information in the “defence of values” shared by both countries.
The joint statement signed by the two leaders also reflected those sentiments.
“In order to face this common threat, both countries agreed to strengthen their cooperation against international terrorism through, inter-alia, increased operational contacts,” it said.
French FM visit to strengthen ties with India
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Dec 20: French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner arrived here on Thursday in a build-up to the visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will be Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26.
During his meeting with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the two leaders will discuss a host of bilateral and international issues, including enhancing business ties, civil nuclear cooperation and cooperation in tackling global challenges, global warming, public health and the fight against emerging diseases.
Besides finalisation of the agenda for the France President's first visit to India, Kouchner will be given a brief on the status of negotiations on the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. The two sides are also expected to discuss the possibilities of civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.
During the parleys, Mukherjee is will also seek France's help in persuading some skeptical members of the 27-nation European Union, like the Scandinavian countries, to back the nuclear deal.
France has always been key supported of India on the civil nuclear deal and has backed India for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
The contentious issue of $600 million army contract for which Eurocopter (a French, German and Spanish consortium) had been shortlisted and is now in doldrums is also expected to figure during the parleys.
On Friday, the French Minister will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and discuss with him a host of issues.
He will call on Congress President and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
During his visit, Kouchner, will participate in a debate with Indian NGOs on the theme of "international solidarity for health" in the presence of Minister of Labour and Employment and Chairman of the Parliamentary Forum on AIDS Oscar Fernandes, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and Executive Director of the Global Fund to fight AIDS Michel Kazatchkine.
Kouchner, who is accompanied by his spouse Christine Ockrent, will also visit Agra.
Franco-Indian relations form part of a strategic partnership defined in 1998 by both the countries which committed themselves to strengthening their bilateral relations in all areas.
“The visit of the French Foreign Minister testifies to our deep attachment to the reinforcement of our bilateral relations and give a boost to existing cooperations, whether they be industrial, scientific, technical or university cooperation,” according to a spokesperson of the French embassy here.
“Moreover, this would enable us to intensify our dialogue with India on global challenges, especially the environment and the fight against global warming, public health and the fight against emerging diseases,” added the spokesperson.
Eight envoys present credentials in New Delhi
President's stress on people-to-people contacts for furthering bilateral ties
By Deepak Arora
NEW DELHI, Sept 26: Eight envoys presented their credentials to the President Pratibha Devisingh Patil at a ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Wednesday.
The Ambassadors, who presented their credentials, were Mr. Marc Courte (Luxembourg), Mr. Jerome Bonnafont (France), Ms. Ann Ollestad (Norway), Mr. Miguel Angel Ramirez Ramos (Cuba), Mr. Jean-Marie Deboutte (Belgium), and Ms. Daniele Smadja (European Commission) and Mr. Hardijs Baumanis (Latvia). UK High Commissioner, Mr. Charles Richard Vernon Stagg, also presented his credentials.
During her interaction with the Heads of Missions, The President stated that India was committed to promote peace and prosperity in the world.
Mrs Patil stressed on the need for the international community to unitedly combat terrorism.
The President also said that India seeks friendly relations with all countries and would work towards further strengthening ties by increasing trade and investment, as well as through enhanced people to people contacts, student and cultural exchanges.
The credential presentation ceremony was attended by the senior members of the diplomatic missions, senior officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
On this occasion, Mr. Bonnafont reaffirmed the historical ties of friendship and the strategic partnership between France and India.
After presenting his Credentials, he visited Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat to pay tribute to the Mahatma’s memory and message of peace, which carries universal appeal.
After presenting his credentials to the President, Mr Stagg said: "It is a privilege for me to take on the challenge of building on the strengths of the unique UK-India partnership and to carry forward the huge and broadening agenda of bilateral cooperation. It is an exciting time for all of us engaged in promoting the bilateral links, whether business, government, cultural or social.”
He said "almost all of the British Government's International Strategic Priorities involve stepping up our engagement with India. They cover a wide range of sectors. Foreign and defence policy; counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation; economic and trade policy; science, education, and innovation; environment and sustainable development; as well as vibrant people-to-people contact will work to make the bilateral relationship even more meaningful for both our great nations."